There is a crisis at Manchester United. On Wednesday, the team was eliminated from the League Cup after losing 0-3 at home to Newcastle.
Head coach Erik ten Hag has been widely criticized and almost ridiculed by pundits and fans in recent days. Wednesday’s result at Old Trafford does nothing to calm the storm surrounding the Dutchman. United have lost eight of their 15 games this season, more than half.
In contrast, the club lost seven of 17 matches in the fall of 2021, before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on 21 November.
In percentage terms, the Dutchman’s numbers are even bleaker than what Solskjaer produced in an isolated and almost identical spell.
Tjærnås: – No doubt about it
When Solskjaer was sacked, there were many explanations for what went wrong. Some believe he lost the trust of the players, while others believe he was too weak tactically. He was ridiculed and mocked in some media, but he left the job with his head held high. The Kristiansunderen, who made 366 appearances and scored 126 goals for United, even gave a farewell interview to the club’s TV channel.
Many supporters lobby him to this day, although the pressure eventually became too great and the United board took action.
However, the problems Ten Hag is facing now may suggest that Solskjaer is not necessarily the main problem in the autumn of 2021 when they seriously backfired for the 50-year-old with ugly losses to Liverpool and Watford.
– I’m sure Solskjaer wishes the club success. At the same time, there is no doubt that this puts his job in a better light when the administrative task seems too big for many, Viaplay expert Lars Tiarnas tells Nettavisen.
Viaplay colleague Eivind Bisgaard Sundet said something similar to Nettavisen earlier this fall.
“I think a lot of people now see that the job Solskjaer did at Manchester United was good,” the commentator said.
Tjærnås also believes the problems at the former champion club run much deeper than who is leading the team. Solskjaer may have felt this during his tenure and perhaps the same applies now, under Ten Hag’s regime.
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– There are other and bigger problems in the club than the technical director. The floors above need to be cleaned, in terms of structure, ownership and organization of the sport in particular and the club in general, the former coach also believes about the situation at Manchester United.
– Ten Hag should look at himself in the mirror
However, it is clear that Ten Hag must now bear his share of responsibility for what is happening at Old Trafford.
The former Ajax coach got off to a good start in his work as United coach last season, when he led the team to win the League Cup and third place in the English Premier League. In doing so, he ensured that the Reds could once again play in the Champions League.
He was supposed to build on that this season, but as mentioned, it was a black fall. What Ten Hag is experiencing now is reminiscent of what happened to his predecessors – Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer – after a strong first season.
At the same time, a manager cannot hide when things go wrong during his tenure. In my opinion, Manchester United is weaker now than it was a year ago. Then Ten Hag has to look in the mirror. Tjærnås believes he is getting too little from too many players now.
In the wake of the loss to rivals Manchester City on Sunday, Ten Hag’s critics called for a clearer game plan and style of play. And now the Dutchman seems to be going back and forth, without finding any good answers.
-There is no common thread in the choices that are made. It’s difficult to describe the way United play football and how they want to play football, Eivind Holth, a journalist at the Norwegian Manchester United Supporters Club, told Nettavisen earlier this week.
The club’s work has been under criticism
The unpopular Glazer family owns United. During the family’s time as owners, the impression was created that they were more interested in putting money into their own pockets, rather than investing back into the club for further sporting development.
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But about a year ago, they put the club up for sale. After a long, confusing and messy process, it now appears that Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe will end up buying 25 per cent of the club and will take over the sporting responsibility of the ownership side with him.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville is among those who has been highly critical for several years of the way Manchester United are run. He called for a clearer sporting structure and a more modern approach to football club ownership and management.
After Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down as coach in 2013, United have fallen behind when it comes to club operations compared to rivals such as Manchester City and Liverpool. This became abundantly clear on Sunday, when United were humiliated by City at Old Trafford.
Over the past ten years or so – thanks to wealthy and ambitious owners from the Middle East – City have built a state-of-the-art club structure, where there is a common thread and clear thought behind both player logistics, development and style of play. It has yielded incredible gains.
Although City’s owners are highly controversial, and are often accused of using the club for so-called sports money laundering, there is no doubt that they have greatly improved the light blue from a sporting point of view. It was crowned, among other things, with a historic triple victory last season.
On the other hand, Manchester United have not won the Premier League since the days of Ferguson. There was a trophy or two in the following years, but the superpowers also had to watch clubs like Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool and City lift the trophy they had previously had a ticket to.
– He lacks a sports director with authority
Netavisen has written numerous articles about the situation at United this fall, and the recurring theme has always been the sporting structure. While many clubs in the Premier League have a clear organization, philosophy and structure behind the logistics of players, what United do seems far more haphazard. A lot of money has been spent, and the team has not improved much.
Bare Ten Hag has spent around £400m – around NOK 5.5bn – on new players since taking over as manager in the summer of 2022. He has had the opportunity to form his own team, but that is not reflected on the pitch. .
Where clubs like Liverpool, City, Brighton and many others have achieved success through a sporting director-led strategy, United got their first sporting director in late 2021. John Murtough enjoys the role, but not necessarily the ability to influence the direction of the club. The club.
Speaking at the Norwegian Manchester United Supporters Club earlier this week, Holth described United’s signing process at Netavsen as “manager-led”. By this he means that the manager is largely allowed to build the team based on his or her wants and needs.
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– United are missing a sporting director with greater authority, who sets a philosophy and style of play and appoints a manager and players based on it. He told Netafsen that Ten Hag has probably brought in 11 players now, has his own team, and almost all of them can be questioned.
Solskjaer: – I can’t buy them
Before the club appointed a sporting director, former chief executive Ed Woodward – a man with no sporting background – was alleged to have had significant control over procurement. They were brought in in large, expensive quantities, but without any clear plan on how the players would fit together. Woodward was the club’s manager during Solskjaer’s time as United manager.
The Norwegian revealed to The Athletic several names he wanted to bring to the club, but were rejected or simply not approved by the management. He pointed out in the interview that United no longer has the same appeal in the world of football.
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He listed names such as Erling Braut Haaland, Declan Rice, Moises Caicedo, Jude Bellingham, and Harry Kane.
– We talked about Moises Caicedo, but we felt we needed players who could join the team directly. He said: “Brighton is very good at giving players from abroad a year and a half to settle in, but at United you do not have that luxury and it has cost the club’s players.”
– When I was active, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were the best young players and we signed them. Now Manchester United can’t go and buy Ivan Ferguson (Brighton). He admitted that we could not buy the players I proposed for the club.
The data testifies once again that a better sporting organization and structure – a clearer long-term plan and philosophy – can make a difference at United, rather than constantly returning to zero and a “new project” every time the manager has to do so. Bite sour apple.
Having said that, perhaps Solskjaer’s fate at the club could have been very different?
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